March 30, 2016
Iceland is commonly lumped among the progressive Nordic/Scandinavian countries and rightfully so. Gay marriage has been legal since 2010 and citizens elected the world’s first openly gay prime minister in 2009. But while the country strives to move with the times, there is a rampant stubbornness among its people that is rooted in long-term traditions and religion. Icelanders don’t get their panties in a twist as much as conservative Americans, but every once in a while a pandemic will sweep through the country that will divide its people. And right now, that pandemic is a group of fifteen sexually-charged, potty-mouthed feminist hip-hop artists called Reykjavíkurdætur, or the daughters of Reykjavík.
The rap collective is considered to be progressive by some and shameful to others, and the group of girls thrives off their own controversy. When I saw the group perform at Iceland Airwaves back in November, they performed in nude-colored underwear, which highlighted every curve and crevice—an intentional decision to show how little they care about body image. Their shows are always energetic, always crazy, with each one of the girls wielding a microphone and spitting verses like the best of them.
But if their scandalous stage presence is too shocking for some audiences, then their good-humored but provocative lyrics might just knock conservatives back to 1950s suburbia.
“It is so nice to get it up the ass/I like myself a pinky winky in the stinky/ because I’m a feminist/ and I’m kinky.”
Another song, “Ógeðsleg,” or “Revolting”, puts sexual dominance, clitoris-sucking and tampon use on a pedestal without any apologies or censorship. This particular song has Iceland in a complete whirlwind of political correctness, recently, thanks to Reykjavíkurdætur’s appearance on the evening talk show “Vikan, með Gísla Merteini.” Rather than performing at the stage, the girls swarmed the host’s desk and the couch, clad in hospital gowns and scrubs. Two of the performers wore strap-on dildos and began humping their mortified onlookers as they sang into their microphones. One of the guests, esteemed Icelandic actress Ágústa Eva Erlendsdóttir, stood up and stormed off stage in the middle of the song.
The act was particularly controversial because the show is frequently watched by families and the elderly. Much like Miley Cyrus’s more recent antics, Reykjavíkurdætur has been accused of abusing sexual exploitation and shock value to gain attention. The group, who also told the Icelandic Prime Minister to “suck my pussy,” has no problem with such a classification.
“Fifty-percent of the nation are racist, anti-feminist, narrow-minded and living in a box,” member Vigðís Ósk said in a 2016 Vice interview. “People look at us and they wouldn’t even know where to start. They look at us and they can’t say it’s good, as it’s not allowed; they don’t think we should have a voice for it.”
Most likely, much of that naysaying 50 percent lives in the more conservative parts of Iceland, (otherwise known as everywhere outside of Reykjavík). Two-thirds of Iceland’s 325,000 population lives in and around the capital, which means that the only connection most rural areas have to popular Icelandic culture is via television shows, the Internet and the radio. Suffice to say, Reykjavíkurdætur don’t regularly perform in the smaller municipalities.
One 20-year-old male coworker of mine, who has lived in this town of 1,500 for his whole life, told me, “[The members] are just sluts. They’re getting popular and they’re representing Iceland, so people are looking at them and thinking, ‘Oh, that’s normal,’ when it isn’t.”
Iceland is such a small country, but so many eyes are trained on it. According to the Icelandic Tourism Board, 1,261,938 tourists entered Iceland through the international airport in 2015, and a minimum 20 percent increase is projected for 2016. The worry is that too much controversy will suppress the image Iceland is trying to trademark: a quiet place where nature and culture work in harmony. That doesn’t work so well when the increasingly popular Reykjavíkurdætur is encouraging butt stuff.
“I mean we’re progressive,” my co-worker said. “But we’re not that progressive.”
Check out more of Reykjavíkurdætur’s music HERE
(Originally published in Planet JH)